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The Superrich Have Profited From a Broken System—And Their Money Alone Won’t Fix It


The Superrich Have Profited From a Broken System—And Their Money Alone Won’t Fix It

David Korten

Congratulations, you won—you are the last and richest person on Earth. In the security of your sunless underground bunker, you will be the last to die in a dying Earth’s paroxysm of fire and flood.


The problem is that 'we' - our culture - our society and its economic system applaud and reward this behavior without a means of checks and balances. Such checks exist in theory or or they used to, especially in the case of anti trust and monopoly laws that are rarely or no longer enforced. Even the ancient Romans expected the super rich to give back to society in the building and construction of everything from aqueducts to public buildings. We, on the other hand, expect no public service from our superrich other than tax deductible commemorative foundations that they still control etc. There are those like alumni who contribute to major universities and those for whom hospital wings are named but few if any who will build a much needed small local hospital for the back country poor in Appalachia or a new library in a ghetto (Carnegie was of another era) or even a supermarket in a poor neighborhood where one is desperately needed.

Our super rich are lauded by TV shows which stroke the egos of the owners of the immense yachts and palatial houses that are shown but not touched. Yes we all know there are the rich and see what they have but we never see their wealth in context. To many people displaying such gargantuan wealth is deplorable while children in this country go to bed hungry and sick.

Somehow we have made a big show of religious faith at least in politics but we have flipped the gospels over and apply their message of good news to the poor in reverse. The same goes for all the major religions besides Christianity as well. It is as if we would regard a robber as a saint and a plunderer as a hero simply because they have acquired immense wealth by any means necessary. What this attitude towards the rich has done is make us reject the poor. It makes us reject their existence either through denial or neglect and it makes us resent them for needing even a little of what others have in such unbelievable excess.

For all that some wish to claim that America is mainly a christian country, the fact remains that we do not act like it. Like the Republicans most recently with their health care bill that removed health care from the poor and rewarded the wealthy with the money, we are about as unchristian as you can get without breaking the law and committing an outright criminal act. The Republicans literally bring bad news to the poor and with our autocratic NeoNero on what he obviously considers a throne rampaging through our representative government and substituting his unrepresentative replacements, we watch in shock as democracy is dismantled and simple decency is replaced by rapacious greed.

The Republicans are literally bringing bad news to the poor and ramping up for more war as well. It kind of makes you want to keep looking over your shoulder as if you had done something bad and now you are worried that somehow it will come back on you.

The Republicans bring bad news to the poor. How's that for a religion?


This article is a cruel joke. Apparently we are in the position of Oliver Twist, begging the rich with "Please sir, may we have some more?" These fuckers have spent decades reversing policies that regulate their rapacious, and socially destructive, greed. Perhaps we can also ask the psychopathic serial killer to consider the consequences of his actions. These wealthy psychopaths have existed in one form or another since the beginning of human time. Thousands of years ago the people who wrote the Bible warned us of the Golden Calf, and preached about how grinding the faces of the poor into the dust really, really pisses God off. History is a story of one after another psychopath who craves power and riches driving his populations into death and despair.

No, we do not ask, we demand. And there are limited ways to make demands and enforce them for the common good. One is to take back our government and re-write laws to govern the behavior of the rich. So far, so bad. Other ways are not nearly so pleasant for all involved. The guillotine comes to mind. Gandhi also comes to mind, but that would demand a unity of purpose and sacrifice that seems beyond us. But, never, ever think that just asking these supreme assholes to become aware of their destructiveness will ever get you more than a sneer and the same-old same-old.


The biggest challenge for progressives is to reverse more than a half century of successful right wing propaganda that has kept a majority of Murkins bought into the values proliferated by "the superrich".

Although many third party candidates have dented that armor over the years, Bernie Sanders has shone the brightest light on the fallacy of those values and made more inroads changing voters' values.


Breaking out of the hypnosis that has been so assiduously reinforced now for generations calls for narratives of people who have taken the path of, as Joseph Campbell put it, following your bliss. The situations can vary widely, but the human soul is linked into the cosmos and what we share far, far outweighs the niggling little bat-shit dependencies imposed by a parasitic system.

To wit - the narrative of one Emma Massingale, No Reins, no Rules, No Limits
(inspired by Bernie's whoa, whoa, whoa)


“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”
John Kenneth Galbraith


Thank you for such an eloquent, clear and reality-based post!


The point is the 'superrich' have no religion. It's all a facade. The worship of money and power is nothing to be revered.

The lack of ethics or morals on the part of many of the 'superrich' should be considered disgusting. Or just criminal.


Our way of "land ownership" has contributed to the people's lack of access to resources. This problem has its roots in the Roman Era. Prior to Rome conquering the Celtic tribes of Europe, the tribes held lands in common where people could go out and hunt, forage, collect firewood. We don't have common lands anymore. Its all privatized. We might have a few national forests and game lands but they are usually far removed from any populated areas. The common lands need to be within walking distance of the populated areas. Since people do not have access to common lands, gov't programs like food stamps, public housing etc. are necessary to fill that gap. Either change the way people can access resources or provide gov't benefits. Those are our choices as I see it.


Since when are we a "Christian country". We are a secular nation, and not everyone by a long shot is a Christian. Also not everyone embraces a religion at all.


They think that g-d should reward them and punish the poor for being "lazy". They are morons.


Their idea is that the poor deserve punishment from "big daddy"


To paraphrase Fred Shuttlesworth " You can't shame (them), Rattlesnakes don't commit suicide."


Luke, Chapter 6, Verse 20 - Jesus looked at his disciples and said, "Blessed are those who are poor. The Kingdom of God is theirs."


Well, unfortunately Wall Street does not operate that way, and we have a secular government.


Blessed are the poor "n spirit."


Here are some numbers to show how the wealthiest have profited from our broken system: Total U.S. private savings: $92 trillion. In eight years, 2009 - 2017, during the biggest recession since the 1930s and the slowest recovery, the wealthiest Americans gained over $43 trillion in additional wealth. The total U.S. household private wealth increased from $49 trillion to $92 trillion, an increase of 88% nominally, see Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds report, page 2. The top 1% probably increased their average household net worth from $19 million to $33 million, by my calculation. In contrast, the typical or median household lost 40% of its life savings, and millions of workers lost their jobs, income, and homes. Net worth for the typical Black family dropped from $9,100 to $4,500, and for Hispanics it fell from $9,400 to $1,500 -- see State of Working America, the chart on wealth, the last chart. The new wealth gained by the wealthiest who own financial assets is not taxed, but we should enact such a tax. The national debt, in comparison to the $92 trillion in private savings, now approaches $20 trillion, up from $10 trillion in 2008. Taxing financial assets, and there are $76 trillion in financial assets in the U.S. (Flow of Funds, Table B101) and about $30 trillion in "tangible assets" such as real estate, with $14 trillion of private debt = $92 trillion net worth -- I meant to say, taxing financial paper assets is the common sense method to pay down the national debt, and to fund a full-employment policy to employ the almost 19 million American adults still looking for a full-time year-round employment. My blog: http://benL8.blogspot.com, Economics Wthout Greed